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Fundraising tips

35 Fall Festival Ideas for School Fundraising Events

February 29, 2024

As the school year begins, fall events and festivities dominate American neighborhoods. Fall festivals offer a perfect blend of fun, fundraising, and fellowship. With the following 35 fall festival ideas, you can craft an unforgettable experience that delights attendees and provides educational programs and resources for your school community.

Our Favorite Fall Festival Ideas for Schools

  1. Apple or Pumpkin Picking 
  2. Apple Bobbing 
  3. Face Painting 
  4. Photo Booth 
  5. Hay Bale Maze 
  6. Cornhole Tournament 
  7. Pumpkin Ring Toss 
  8. Leaf Pile Jump 
  9. Acorn Spoon Race 
  10. Candy Corn Guessing Game 
  11. Scarecrow Relay Race 
  12. Pin the Tale on the Black Cat 
  13. Caramel Apples 
  14. Caramel Popcorn 
  15. Smores Bar 
  16. Chili and Cornbread 
  17. Pumpkin Spice Donuts 
  18. Corn on the Cob 
  19. Hot Chocolate and Apple Cider 
  20. Pumpkin Decorating Contest 
  21. Scarecrow Decorating 
  22. Autumn Leaf Garland 
  23. Twinkling Lights 
  24. Haunted Festival 
  25. Pumpkin Spice Gift Basket 
  26. Fall Family Pack 
  27. Outdoor Fire Pit Kit 
  28. Fall Outdoor Adventure Pack 
  29. Family Game Night Package 
  30. Storytelling Circle 
  31. Meet and Greet with Local Politicians and Celebrities 
  32. Farmer's Market Corner
  33. Fall Astronomy Night
  34. Community Performances 
  35. Community Art Project 

Fall Festival Booth Ideas for Schools

1- Apple or Pumpkin Patch

What would a fall festival be without pumpkin or apple picking? This simple and fun activity is a tradition for a reason. Partner with a local apple or pumpkin patch and give kids a fun activity outside of school.

picking apple, apple picking, woman

2- Apple Bobbing

Another traditional fall activity is apple bobbing. Invite different age groups to try their luck at bobbing for apples. Encourage more participation by awarding prizes to all participants.

3- Face Painting

A face painting booth is a must-have for any kids' event. Save money by buying face paint crayons online and ask parents and teachers to share their artistic talents.

4- Photo Booth

A photo booth is a fun festival idea for the fall season. Because almost all students have smartphones, schools can set up a booth or two with fall decorations and costumes, and students can take selfies to share online.

5- Hay Bale Maze

Pile hay bales high to create a massive maze or keep it simple for young kids to play on and enjoy.

Fall Festival Game Ideas for Schools

6- Cornhole Tournament

Set up multiple cornhole boards and host a bean bag tournament for kids and adults. Offer a prize to the winner of the "bags" tournament.

7- Pumpkin Ring Toss

A pumpkin ring toss is an easy and affordable game for all age groups. Set up different-sized pumpkins on stands and give players rings to toss around or over pumpkin stems.

8- Leaf Pile Jump

Young kids love jumping in piles of leaves in the fall. Your school can fill large containers with artificial or natural leaves and make it a game by hiding small prizes for children to find.

9- Acorn Spoon Race

You've heard of egg races, haven't you? This fall, you can organize a race with acorns and encourage kids to run around an obstacle course. The first one to the finish line wins a prize.

10- Candy Corn Guessing Game

Fill a jar and have children guess the number of all the candy corn inside. The closest guess wins the candy jar.

11- Scarecrow Relay Race

Team members for your scarecrow relay race must dress up a scarecrow by running to a pile of clothes, putting on an item, and returning it to the next in line. Include a prize for all members of the winning team.

12- Pin the Tale on the Black Cat

Put a fall twist on "Pin the tail on the Donkey." Blindfold participants and have them pin the tail on a black cat picture.

Fall Festival Food Ideas for Schools

13- Caramel Apples

Treat participants to a caramel apple decorating booth. Have the apples and caramel ready to dip, and provide nuts, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and sprinkles.

14- Caramel Popcorn

 Sell bags of caramel popcorn or create caramel popcorn balls for the kids to enjoy.

15- Smores Bar

Set up a DIY s'mores station with graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. Let families roast the marshmallows over a fire pit or portable stove.

16- Chili and Cornbread

Your fall festival will need real food for the children. Cook a large pot of chili and provide toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions. Offer tasty cornbread on the side.

17- Pumpkin Spice Donuts

Partner with a local bakery and serve fresh pumpkin spice donuts with cinnamon sugar or iced frosting. These yummy treats will be enough to bring people to your fair year after year.

18- Corn on the Cob

The kids won't notice it's healthy with all the butter, salt, and other seasonings they can add.

19- Hot Chocolate, Apple Cider, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Partner with a coffee shop or make these tasty fall drinks yourself.

Fall Festival Decoration Ideas for Schools

20- Pumpkin Carving Contest

Host a pumpkin decorating contest and have the kids decorate pumpkins and compete for a prize for the funniest, scariest, most imaginative designs. If you want to really impress, you can hire an artist that specializes in pumpkin design.

21- Scarecrow Decorating

Collect old clothes from thrift stores and donations, and invite participants to create scarecrows with old clothes, hay, and other materials.

22- Fall Wreaths

Ask volunteers to decorate and hang wreaths with fall colors on doors, walls, and entryways of the school.

23- Twinkling Lights

Hang lanterns and twinkling lights to brighten up your school and create a festive environment.

24- Haunted Festival

Since fall is the season of Halloween, schools can decorate their fall festival with spooky decorations and teachers can dress up in costumes to create a haunted house festival.

Fall Festival Raffle Ideas for Schools

25- Pumpkin Spice Gift Basket

Pumpkin spice is a popular seasoning during the fall. School fall festivals raffle off a basket of pumpkin spice candles, bath bombs, shower gels, pumpkin spice lattes, and hot chocolate.

26- Fall Family Pack

Looking for a fun family raffle basket idea? Combine tickets to local pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and hayrides, along with snacks and goodies for everyone to enjoy.

27- Outdoor Fire Pit Kit

Bonfires are another fall tradition for all ages. Your school's fall festival can raffle off an outdoor fire pit kit with marshmallow roasting sticks, gourmet smores ingredients, a designer blanket, and chairs.

28- Fall Outdoor Adventure Pack

Put together hiking gear, picnic essentials, a thermos for hot cocoa, and hiking trail guidebooks for your more adventurous students and their families.

29- Family Game Night Package

Game night is another fun family activity. Add a few board games, card games, puzzles, and activity books suitable for kids of various ages to your raffle basket.

Community Engagement Ideas for Fall Festivals

30- Storytelling Circle

A storytelling circle creates a space for community members to share stories, memories, and traditions related to fall and your community. Set up hay bales around a campfire and invite participants to join the fun. A spooky storytelling circle can also be a great addition to a community haunted house.

31- Meet and Greet with Local Politicians and Celebrities

Invite local celebrities, politicians, and community leaders to your fall festival. This can be a great opportunity for students and parents to ask questions and learn about upcoming events and community initiatives.

32- Farmer's Market Corner

Set up a mini farmers' market at your fall festival. Offer fresh produce, homemade jams, crafts, and baked treats with a fall theme.

33- Fall Astronomy Night

Invite students and parents to view fall constellations like Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Pegasus. Offer a guided tour of the stars for Astronomy enthusiasts. Serve hot cocoa and include telescope viewing if possible.

34- Community Performances

Add entertainment to your festival by showcasing local talent with performances by local bands, dance troupes, theatre companies, and choirs.

35- Community Art Project

Excite students and families with a large-scale art project. Some ideas to try include a mural, community quilt, or sculpture made with eco-friendly material.

5 Tips to Raise More During Your School Fundraiser

A few simple changes to your fundraising plans can turn a drain on your budget into a successful school fundraiser. Include one or more of these fundraising tips to inspire more participation and raise more funds this year.

Set Clear Goals

A fall carnival, festival, or event for your school requires clear goals to ensure its success. The first question you should ask is why you're holding a fundraising event. Is it to encourage more participation from your school community, raise more money, or collect funds for a specific project?

The reason for your fundraiser will help you find and connect with your desired donors. Choosing one or more specific donor types will help you determine what events will raise the most money for your event. School fundraisers primarily target students and their families.

You'll want to look at other nonprofits' events and your past events to see if you can sell tickets to your fundraiser or depend on volunteer donations. If you choose to host a raffle or auction, this information can also help you find prizes and items to encourage more participation.

Choose the Right Fundraising Tool

The last thing you want when choosing a fundraising tool is to spend more than you collect. Schools can use Zeffy's free tools to offer multiple donation options to event participants. With Zeffy, you can sell tickets or register attendees, collect donations online, sell products and raffle tickets, and collect the contact information of all participants.

Offer Incentives

A simple way to gain more participation for your school's fall fundraiser is by providing rewards for participation and donations. Include prizes for game winners, top volunteers, and fundraisers, and offer exclusive perks for supporters.

Use Inspiring Storytelling

Storytelling is one of the best ways to inspire community members to learn more about your school and feel a connection. A compelling story about a student or teacher is all some people will need to give a donation.

Include stories throughout your website and marketing pieces when promoting your fall festival. During your fundraiser, find ways to connect stories and testimonials to other fundraising activities.

Express Gratitude

Fundraising is primarily about relationships. The best way to form relationships with your school community is by expressing gratitude for their involvement with your fundraiser, whether through purchasing a ticket, giving a donation, or volunteering.

Remember to collect each attendee's contact information if possible and send regular updates about how their support has made a difference to your school and the students.

How to Plan Your School's Fall Festival Fundraiser

It takes a lot of planning and hard work to make a school fundraiser successful. Remember, you can't do it alone.

Form a Fundraising Committee

Encourage more participation in your fall event with a community fundraising committee. Assign committee members to different fundraising and marketing activities. Ask them to use their personal and professional contacts to find interesting raffle items or potential entertainment options. Finally, put the fundraising committee in charge of promoting the event to school and community members.

Set Date and Location

The first thing on your to-do list when planning your school's fall festival is to choose a date and location. It's best to select a date earlier in the school year so it doesn't compete with Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Dates around Halloween may be a good option and provide more decoration and themed activities as long as there aren't too many competitive fundraisers simultaneously.

Choose Fundraising Activities and Entertainment

After finalizing a date, location, and budget for your fall festival, it's time to choose fun fundraising activities. Choose a primary activity like pumpkin or apple picking or a hay bale maze. Adding a bunch of booths for games and food can help you raise more funds.

Entertainment, even when it's not the main event activity, can help create a specific environment for your event that can also help you raise money.

Choose Food and Refreshments

Fall festival food ideas can include full meals or kid-friendly treats like bags of candy or a cookie decorating table. Depending on your audience, you can sell these treats at different booths or provide them for free to those who purchase event tickets.

Market Your Festival Fundraiser

As you finalize fundraising activities, you can begin promoting your event to the community. It's best to use a variety of ways to connect with school members and the public, especially if you hope for a larger crowd.

One of the best ways to promote your event is to build a relationship with the local press. Send press releases to the newspaper and radio station, and contact other local podcasters and influencers to spread the word about your event.

Afterward, you can use traditional marketing techniques like posters and flyers on business windows and mailing postcards. Finally, don't forget to email long-time supporters and share regular posts on your social media platforms.

Recruit Volunteers

As you get closer to your event date, you'll need to recruit enough volunteers to help your festival run smoothly. Luckily, as a school, you should have several options for volunteers. Parent Teacher Associations can connect you with the parents of every child in your school. You can also provide incentives to older kids willing to volunteer.

Set Up Your Festival

A few days before and the morning of your event, you can begin setting up festival booths, tables, and larger activities like your hay bales, pumpkins, and other decorations. Ask your volunteers to get to the location early on the day of your event to ensure everything is set up on time.

Evaluate the Event

After the fall festival fundraiser is over, it's time to evaluate the event to see what went well and where you can improve. If you didn't meet your fundraising goals, now's the time to determine which activities supported your fundraising efforts and which cost more than they were worth.

Ask your fundraising committee and volunteers for their input and send a survey to parents of children to get their perspective. This influx of advice can help you determine how best to move forward.

How Did Sunny Sky Shelter Raise Close to $10,000 Last Fall?

Sunny Sky Animal Rescue turned an old farm into a Forest of Fear with a haunted trail and a barn filled with scares. An affordable admission price that covered a host of spooky activities for older children and adults and a clear fundraising appeal inspired donors to raise close to $10,000. Zeffy's free online fundraising tools helped them save $493 in fees.

Sell Fundraising Event Tickets for Free on Zeffy

Fall festivals bring images of pumpkin patches, costume parades, and kids having fun and eating delicious treats. Fall events can help your community enjoy the season with great ideas and festive decorations. As you plan your next fall festival school fundraiser, save more money with Zeffy's free event ticket sales tool. Create your fundraising event page now.